What inspired you to write it?
I’ve wanted to write a novel for about as long as I can remember, but I remember the exact moment when I decided to give it an actual shot. After that, of course, I waited at least two more years, spending hours on Sunday mornings starting and restarting outlines, or thinking romantically about how I was going to write without actually doing any actual writing.
After a solid year or so more of my dad pestering me constantly every time we talked on the phone (I swear I still hear, “Did you start your book yet?" whenever the phone rings), I finally just...started. I told myself to write worrying about what book I should write, or what book might sell, and just wrote whatever sounded like the most fun. I wrote a book I’d want to read on a beach somewhere, or on the couch with an Irish coffee when it’s -10 outside and the streets have been white for months. I took at all of my favorite plot elements--insulated, atmospheric environments; gothic villains, melodramatic conspiracies, indulgent love stories, and snarky bitches--and combined them together in a way that was as fun to write as I hope it is to read. About six months later I had the first draft of Poor Little Dead Girls.
The book launches in November, 2013. Pre-order POOR LITTLE DEAD GIRLS, here:Amazon
Do you write from an outline or are you a "pantser"?
I’m an obsessive outliner. The first thing I do after getting an idea is start outlining, and I keep it going throughout the writing process. I’m constantly updating it, though, and the final outline looks nothing like the original. I didn’t really believe other authors when they told me this early on because it sounds so conveniently romantic and writer-y, but the plot does have a way of taking on a mind of its own. Once you’re in full swing with a manuscript, the act of writing feels a lot like reading. The scenes play out in your head the same way, and you have more control over what’s happening, but not by much.
Who's your favorite author? What is it about his or her writing that has made you a fan?
Favorite author is such an impossible question, but the author I’m most excited about right now is Gillian Flynn. She writes such intelligent, truly surprising mysteries with unbelievably nasty female characters, which is much more of a compliment than it sounds. She’s an author that high-brow types like to criticize because she got so much hype for Gone Girl, but I don’t think she gets enough credit for her craft. She’s the only author I’ve ever read that can evoke truly visceral reactions from me on a regular bases, and she’s incredibly good at letting a plot unfold while keeping a reader guessing. For anyone who hasn’t read it, I recommend taking a look at the “For Readers” essay on her site, as it articulates what’s so great about her more than I ever could.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have a "day job"? What do you do in your "day job"?
I do have a day job that I love, though it’s definitely in a whole different world from YA fiction. I’m an analyst at a market research and consulting firm, and I cover the global restaurant industry for companies like fast food and coffee shop chains. I track trends in the industry, break down financial filings and publish insights and recommendations on everything from street food in Thailand to cafe culture in the UAE. I’m also a part-time grad student working my way towards a masters in analytics at Northwestern.
Why YA as opposed to some other genre?
I wasn’t a big reader of YA before I started researching it for my book, but I think it’s an incredibly worthwhile category and the resurgence that has happened in the post-Twilight years is really exciting. As one Grantland writer put it here, young adult novels strip away some of the noise that’s so common in adult novels and focuses on the core tenets of what storytelling is really about. Because of this, people like to think of YA as easier to write, but that’s not the case at all. Sure some things are streamlined, because you don’t have to deal with the banal details of adult life (jobs, bills, mortgages) but you also don’t have room for error. YA novels are shorter and tighter, and you don’t have time to mess around. I also feel like I’m at a point in my life where I can look back on the teenage experience with a certain level of clarity, but I need a bit more life experience and distance before I’ll be able to do the same for the adult years.
Who's your agent? Take this opportunity to brag on him/her if you'd like!
My agent is the wonderful and talented Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency. Couldn’t be happier, couldn’t recommend her more. Find out more about her submission guidelines and preferences here and here.
Thanks for joining us Lizzie. Best of luck with POOR LITTLE DEAD GIRLS!